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US rebukes Israel and allows UN condemnation of settlements

The U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Israel cease Jewish settlement activity on Palestinian territory in a unanimous vote that passed with the United States abstaining rather than using its veto as it has reliably done in the past.

The resolution said settlements are threatening the viability of the two-state solution, and urged Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiations that lead to two independent nations.

This marked the first time in more than 36 years that the Security Council passed a resolution critical of settlements.

The United States' abstention Friday reflected mounting frustration in the Obama administration over settlement growth that the United States considers an obstacle to peace.

The resolution came one day after a scheduled vote was postponed when the sponsor, Egypt, withdrew it after the Egyptian president spoke by phone with President-elect Donald Trump. Friday's resolution was sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal.

Shortly before the vote, several U.S. senators said that if it passed they would introduce legislation to cut off U.S. funding to the United Nations and to any states that voted in favor of it.